Rinko Bags and Traveling with your Bicycle on Trains in Japan

Rinko Bags and Traveling with your Bicycle on Trains in Japan

So you got your bike to Japan, you dealt with storing and shipping your bike box, and now you have your bike assembled and are ready to start your great cycling adventure!

If you are planning to use trains or even just have them as a bailout option during your cycling trip in Japan it would be a great idea to learn about the Rinko Bag system and the rules around taking bikes on trains & transit in Japan.

TLDR: You will need a rinko bag to cover your bike almost everywhere when you take it on transit. They are a small investment that allows you to use public transit and can be easily gotten in most major cities or on Amazon.co.jp. We will have links below to buy them and send to your first hotel!

What is a Rinko Bag?

A Rinko Bag, or “Rinko-Fukuro” 輪行袋 in Japanese, is simply a lightweight bag to put your bicycle in when taking transit. Though the exact logic as to why you need to use these seems to be told as cleanliness, Japan actually allows folding bikes on without these often. So, as with many rules in Japan, you sorta just gotta go with it.

Luckily this is an easy one, and with a quick stop at a bike shop or order online you can be set to roll when you arrive in Japan!

Buying A Rinko Bag in Advance

I would recommend buying your Rinko Bag in advance if you plan to roll quickly and hastle free. The best way to do so is simply order one online and have it shipped to your first hotel you are visiting.

There are lots of options on Amazon.co.jp, and you can use English to make an account etc so it is very foreigner friendly.

Here is a sample bag you can buy.

Our friends at GS Astuto have full English service and will ship you a bag to wherever your adventure begins. They are our first recommendation for an easy setup!

https://www.gsastuto.com/store/p71/rinkobukuro.html

Also can find them on Amazon and many other vendors

Sample Rinko Bag on Amazon JP

Things To Watch Out For When Buying A Rinko Bag in Japan

In short you need to watch out for really just two main things.

  1. Will your bike fit? – If you have a frame size under 54cm/medium or so, it is almost certain your bike will fit any bag. Beyond that you might need to be more selective. Be sure to check the size charts for the bag.
  2. Full coverage – You would be amazed at the variety of experience you can get at train stations when it comes to rules around these bags. Some entire train lines let you roll your bike on and have bike racks on the trains. But most will not, and some will go as far as to say that your saddle sticking out is unacceptable. If you want to play it safe, make sure you can cover all of the bike.

Beyond that, there are cheaper bulky to ultralight thin options and everything in between.

Packing Your Bike Into a Rinko Bag

Every bag is different and will come with instructions on how to pack, but the big thing to watch out for first timers packing their bikes is rubbing and scratching.

Almost every bag will have you at least take off your front wheel, and many will take off both wheels. Then they will have you strap the wheels to the frame as shown below.

Because of this, if you do not secure things correctly and make sure rims, disc breaks, gears are not rubbing, you can arrive at your destination with a bunch of new dings and scratches. Be really careful of this, and if you are worried about it, consider traveling with some small towels or foam you can place around these parts to avoid this.

If you don’t know what this is and you have disc brakes, you need 2 of them. Trust me.

Lastly, if you have disc breaks it is best to travel with break stops. This is because, should your levers get pulled/bumped while in transit it is possible for your brake pistons to fall out. If you don’t know what I mean by this, then all the more reason to head this advice 🙂

Getting on Trains With The Bike In A Rinko Bag

There are a few trains that require booking specific seats (typically the last row) such as the Shinkansen Bullet Train so that you can utilize the space behind the seat to store the bike.

It is best to inquire with the staff how to best proceed at each area, but in general you can assume the following situations.

  • you are safe to put the bike in the last row if assigned seat
  • sit with the bike in front of you if subway style
  • place in a bulkhead where it won’t obscure the flow of walking and secure it so it won’t slide around

The Emergency Rinko Bag – AKA I Forgot/Lost My Bag

Ok, by all means do not try to do this as your default, BUT if you so happen to have “forgotten or lost” your Rinko Bag, one hack is to run to a grocery or convenience store and get some big trash bags.

Preferably black non-transparent because you will get some skeptical looks from the train staff with the clear stuff. But in short, you can McGyver your way to a Rinko Bag with some tape & about 3-4 trash bags.

Great for a pinch, but very much not a good look 🙂

Don’t be that guy, unless you are in a pinch. And certainly don’t be a repeat offender.

And that’s that!

All you need to know about Rinko Bags in Japan, take one with ya and enjoy the ease of the amazing Japanese transit system!

If you want more help on bike logistics in Japan check out our article below.

https://biketourjapan.com/traveling-with-bicycles-in-japan/

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